I sell technical services to folks that typically have limited knowledge of the services we provide. It would be easy to call our prospective customers stupid or ignorant; but that’s certainly not the case and is not going to help us sell more of our services. In fact, it would quite likely have the reverse effect. Instead we see this knowledge gap as an opportunity to educate our prospective customers so then can understand the value of our services to their businesses.
Bridging the knowledge gap with education
Some products require little or no education to be sold successfully. Items like clothing or shoes are typically purchased based upon how they look with additional consideration for the reputation of the brand. Of course even in this case, an argument can be made for educating the consumer that a higher quality piece of clothing will last longer or be more durable. At the end of the day, however, if you don’t like the way the shoes or suit look on you, you won’t be buying them.
On the “education necessary to successfully sell your product” continuum, most services and technical products are at the higher end of the scale. For example, we have a service that comes and fertilizes our lawn several times each spring, summer and fall (Why I thought of this example while looking at a snow covered yard I have no idea.) Now that we’ve had the service for several years, I see the benefits each warm summer day as I walk through my yard barefoot. There are no weeds; just richer, thicker green grass. The tricky part for the service provider was convincing me they could do this BEFORE they did.
The lawn care provider educated my wife and me with well-designed marketing materials showing before and after pictures of yards they had treated for a few seasons. They also explained we wouldn’t have to lay the fertilizer down ourselves and keep track of the right times of the year for each product. It wasn’t a hard sell; but it certainly took a half hour or so of the gentleman’s (and our) time. And here’s one key difference: I didn’t go looking for this service. They came and found me. When I need clothing, I go looking for it either in a store or online.
Knowledge empowers the educated buyer
By sharing your subject matter expertise for free in advance of the sale, you create an educated potential consumer for your product or service. That educated consumer will probably also have some loyalty to you for providing the knowledge necessary to improve their business processes and bottom line profitability. A great example of this approach is the Scribe content marketing software from CopyBlogger Media. By simply signing up for their email newsletter list, you can get the Scribe Content Library (affiliate link) for free. These free ebooks are just one example of a successful education marketing strategy.
Education Marketing Strategy Ideas
- Blog posts such as this one (says Captain Obvious)
- ebooks such as the Scribe example above
- Webinars such as this one I did on behalf of my company ColorMetrix
- Short information videos such as this one I did for ColorMetrix
- Public speaking about your subject matter expertise such as one I did as part of this Color Myths and Mysteries panel
- Host free or low-cost educational seminars for customers and prospects like we did with Color Conversations Live
- And for the most ambitious among us, you could write a book.
That’s a pretty good list to get you started, and I think enough that you get the idea. If you think I left some out, by all means please leave a comment below and let me know!
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